posts tagged with the keyword ‘food’


Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor

It’s been a lot of fun teaching Electronics and Sculpture, and weird things happen sometimes, so I thought I’d take the time to explain a weird thing, and how it happened. The photo above is a kinetic sculpture titled “Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor”.

Steak Ballet

The photo above is a kinetic sculpture titled “Steak Ballet”. It was created by Atticus, one of the students in the class. When you open the box, the steak (not a real stake) spins around. It’s like a music box, without music, and with meat. (But not real meat.)

During critique we started coming up with a few crazy ideas, and someone, I don’t know if it was me, or if it was Mike, came up with idea of a hot dog, on a spring, that spins around. I honestly can’t remember if one person came up with it, or it was collaborative, but it became a running joke during critique… and in a few classes afterwards.

Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor

Steak Ballet was the third project of the semester. By the fourth project (the mid-term) the hot dog on a spring thing was sort of a regular joke. The mid-term projects were awesome, and I was really proud of the work my students did, so I decided to reward them by building something and showing it to them… thus “Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor” was born. And I gave credit to the class on the bottom of the piece.

Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor

Now, this also all came together for another weird reason… Joe at BBCM brought a bunch of hot dogs into my office and I asked if I could borrow one. Also, Joe knows Atticus and they used to work together. Weird!

And yes, this does continue some of the ideas I was playing with when I created the Pizza Bagel Bot for a robot battle last year.

Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor

Here’s a quick (poor quality) video of the Hot Dog on a Spring on a Motor. (At least it’s not a Vertical Video!)


3D Printed Cookie Cutters

You loved Printing Violations, and you tolerated Printing Violations (Part II), so we’re back again with another episode of Printing Violations, this time looking more closely at the health issues surrounding 3D printed cookie cutters.

Licensing issues are one thing, but there is a safety concern with 3D printed cookie cutters. Here’s a look at some of the issues. (All assume you are using a home 3D printer like a MakerBot, RepRap, Printrbot, etc.)

Is ABS or PLA plastic filament food-safe?
The answers range from “probably not” to “maybe” in most cases. If you use natural filament it will be free of coloring agents, which is a step in the right direction, but unless you are specifically buying “food-safe filament” don’t expect it to be food-safe. (Keep in mind that “food-safe” is something that will be determined by local health departments, and will vary depending on where you live.)

Then there’s the printer itself, and the environment it runs in. My printer lives in a basement where I do other crazy things like run a drill press, spray glue and paint, and generally make a mess. Would you want your cookie cutter manufactured in such an environment? What has the filament come into contact with before it goes into the machine, and what else has been introduced into the extruder as far as foreign materials? If you’ve ever read up on what it takes to make food in your home and sell it commercially, you’ll have some idea of the restrictions involved. (Wait, we aren’t selling food, right? We’ll get to that, be patient!)

Can 3D printed items be treated to be safe(er?)
If you’ve ever looked at a 3D printed object, you may notice the ridges. Since it’s built up layer upon layer, there are spaces into which food could get stuck. Of course you can try to clean your 3D printed cookie cutter, but don’t put it in the dishwasher! For PLA prints, the heat will either melt it, or deform it, or do some other nasty thing to it. ABS may be better, but you will still need to heat it enough to sterilize it, and hope you can get the crevices clean. It’s been suggested that acetone vapor finishing might be helpful. Helpful enough? Not sure.

Of course you could use your printer to make a mold and then make a food-safe cutter out of another material, but that’s not really a 3D printed cookie cutter. You could also try to coat your printed piece with a food-safe coating, but that’s a lot more work.

So why does all this matter? Because right now, there are people printing cookie cutters and selling them, and there are also people 3D printing cookie cutters, making cookies with them, and selling the cookies.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I love cookies. OK, with that out of the way…)

As mentioned, selling food you make yourself is regulated in most areas, and if you want to start up a business baking in your kitchen and selling the goods, you’re in for a lot of work. I know, I know, it’s all in the name of safety for the public, but there’s a crap-ton of regulations and rules you’ll need to follow. Many places require you to have a kitchen physically separated from your home. As usual, I am not a lawyer, I’ve just done a bit of research. From a maker perspective, we just want to make things! From a public health perspective, let’s try not to make anyone sick, okay?

And yes, I have indeed used 3D printed cookie cutters to make cookies (at least twice) and then gave those cookies to people to eat. No one died yet (that I know of.) I didn’t attempt to re-use the cutters though, so they were a one-time use item, which is probably safer than trying to clean them.

Advice: If you’re going to 3D print cookie cutters, use them only once!

Let’s say you create custom 3D printed cookie cutters and sell them on Etsy or some other site, you should probably include a disclaimer that they should be used only once, since cleaning them is an issue. (Safer yet, tell people they are NOT food-safe, and let them decide if they want to use them. Again, I am no lawyer! Consult your own lawyer!)

Now, as for 3D printing cookie cutters, and then using them to make cookies and sell the cookies, well… This may be worse, since you’re selling actual food that has been created using materials that are questionable as far as being food-safe. Once again, I am no lawyer, but you may need one after selling those cookies.

In conclusion, be safe, people. Many folks are fine with the idea that a piece of ABS plastic touches cookie dough for a second or two before it’s baked at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and others are convinced it’s insane to do such a thing. As with everything, there’s probably some middle ground.

Thanks for reading this, and keep making cookies!

(Big thanks to all the G+ers who helped me out with this. See the thread for more info.)


Photo Challenge: Bakery

We finally did another Photo Challenge at Z2, and the theme was bakery.

Check out all the photos, because there’s some pretty cool ones in there… I mean, besides mine!

You might also notice that I’m blogging at VerveCast as well… You can see all of my posts if you’d like. I’ve recently written about Makerbot Industries, the resolution of the RED ONE, and Strip Tweeting

Of course you could just see the whole blog… There’s other good authors beside myself, and we’re publishing almost every day.


This was 100% my wife’s idea. You see, we have two cats, and because her cat seemed to be losing weight (and because my cat eats like a pig) we were concerned that her cat was not getting any of the food we left out all day long. So when I was told to “Get your time lapse thingy!” I sprung into action and set it up to capture a day’s worth of footage of the cats eating food.

We learned that my cat certainly eats a lot (but doesn’t eat all the food) and my wife’s cat is getting a chance to eat throughout the day, so I’ll call this experiment successful.


tapps posted something to Twitter, I replied and turned it into a joke, and it went a little crazy from there with some help from janiukjf and chernowa … Here’s the transaction. (I’ve saved it here since at some point it may will become unavailable on Twitter.)

Server Errors

As long as we’re on the subject, I thought I’d expand on the whole “Server Error” joke and attempt to come up with a restaurant/food/server joke for every HTTP code.

Informational 1xx – This is when your server introduces themselves to you.

100 Continue – This happens if you interrupt the server before they tell you the specials.

101 Switching Protocols – If the server realizes you are being difficult, stupid, or drunk, they may change the way they talk to you.

Successful 2xx – Hooray! You’ve managed to interact successfully with your server.

200 OK – Server is OK, hasn’t screwed anything up yet.

201 Created – You’ve decided what you wanted to order, and told the server.

202 Accepted – The server has accepted your order.

203 Non-Authoritative Information – If someone tells you that the burgers are good, find out who they heard it from. (Make sure it wasn’t Yelp.)

204 No Content – This is what happens when you are not content with your food.

205 Reset Content – This is what happens when you send the food back.

206 Partial Content – This is what happens when the server forgot something you ordered.

Redirection 3xx – This is what happens when the server starts coming towards your table, but turns and goes the other direction.

300 Multiple Choices – Typically, this will happen when they list the desserts… Choosing is quite difficult!

301 Moved Permanently – Occasionally you may want to move to another table, perhaps by the window, or the fireplace.

302 Found – Hooray! You thought you lost your server, but you found them.

303 See Other – This is what happens when you try to order from an employee who is not your server.

304 Not Modified – This is what happens when you send it back and then they return it without doing anything to it.

305 Use Proxy – This is when you have someone order for you, you know, if you have to go to the bathroom or something.

307 Temporary Redirect – This is when you make everyone else order before you because you haven’t decided yet.

Client Error 4xx – Oops! You’re the client, you’ve done something wrong… You probably pissed off your server.

400 Bad Request – Again, you screwed up. Did you try ordering a steak at a vegan restaurant?

401 Unauthorized – This is what happens if someone tries to order for you but you stop them.

402 Payment Required – Most restaurants rely on this one.

403 Forbidden – Asking your server for his/her phone number.

404 Not Found – Server is missing… probably on break.

405 Method Not Allowed – This is what happens if you try to order the kids meal when you’re a full grown adult.

406 Not Acceptable – If you get “grabby” with your server, well,that’s just not acceptable.

407 Proxy Authentication Required – If someone orders for you, and the server asks if it’s OK that they ordered for you…

408 Request Timeout – Server asks ” Do you need a little more time to decide?” Then leaves. (This is usually followed by a 404 error.)

409 Conflict – You really want the lobster, but you also really want the streak. Can’t have both!

410 Gone – Server has quit. Probably on a bus half way home already.

411 Length Required – This one is typically only used when ordering subs.

412 Precondition Failed – You may have ordered alcohol, but you’re not 21 yet. #fail

413 Request Entity Too Large – You know that 72 ounce steak that they give you, and if you eat the whole thing your meal is free? Don’t do it! It’s too large.

414 Request-URI Too Long – Occasionally someone will try to order everything on the menu…

415 Unsupported Media Type – Don’t try ordering your meal by singing.

416 Requested Range Not Satisfiable – You want free range beef. They don’t have it.

417 Expectation Failed – Your meal sucked.

Server Error 5xx – Server screwed up. It happens. (Go tell Yelp.)

500 Internal Server Error – Occasionally your server will be having emotional problems. Perhaps he (or she) is in love with two people at the same time…

501 Not Implemented – Not everything comes deep-fried and/or covered in cheese.

502 Bad Gateway – Typically an error between the server and the kitchen.

503 Service Unavailable – Server is not serving. See 404 and 410.

504 Gateway Timeout – This happens when the server gets too busy to relay your order to the kitchen.

505 HTTP Version Not Supported – Usually this only happens with older browsers. (Senior citizens who don’t know what to order. Or where they are. Or what year it is.)

Whew! Never let it be that I don’t know when to quit… because really, I don’t. END OF FILE

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